Whether you are old or young, have mental health problems or not, there is nothing wrong with keeping your mind active.

In fact, there is mounting evidence to suggest that keeping your brain active can be very beneficial both for us now and as we get older.

Many care providers, including national agencies like Helping Hands, who work with not only the elderly but also people with physical disabilities and mental health problems, place a lot of importance on ensuring that people are exercising their brains as well as their bodies to the best of their abilities. This enables people to live happier and more fulfilled lives.

There are, of course, plenty of ways that you can keep your brain ticking over, and the bad press around not having too much screen time might mean that you overlook the idea of using apps on your smartphone for mental stimulation. However, experts believe that apps can be a great way to exercise your brain.

When you are choosing brain exercising apps, the most important thing to consider is whether you will enjoy it – after all, you are less likely to stick to it if you don’t enjoy it. It is also important to remember that there is a wealth of mentally stimulating apps around, so you can change whenever you wish.

1. Lumosity

Lumosity is used by over 90 million people around the world and is free to download. It consists of over 40 games that are specially designed to be a fun and exciting way to train your brain. The games challenge your brain through a set of critical thinking, problem-solving and memory games.

The app helps you to set targets and track your progress, as well as help with mindfulness.

2. Elevate

Elevate is another popular brain training app offering a range of fun games which will stretch and test your brain though games which challenge a number of areas including attention, processing speed, speaking skills, maths skills and memory.

With Elevate, you also receive a training program and personalised daily workouts to ensure that you get the most effective outcome from your brain exercising efforts. There is a free version as well as a paid version.

3. Peak

Developed by neuroscientists, Peak offers you a set of over 45 brain games which are scientifically proven to be beneficial to your brain. The free workout will challenge your critical thinking, memory and language in a 10 minute, specifically designed brain workout per day.

Peak has had over 12 million downloads and gives you extensive information so that you can closely track your progress.

4. CogniFit Brain Fitness

CogniFit Brain Fitness app uses patented technology to help you to evaluate and improve your cognitive skills. It uses puzzles, memory games, reasoning games, learning games and educational games to stimulate your brain and can also help to pick up on indicators of mental illness and allows you to compare your cognitive abilities to the rest of the population.

CogniFit offers 25 games and claims to exercise over 25 cognitive skills.

5. NeuroNation

NeuroNation is an award-winning app, developed by neuroscientists at the Free University of Berlin. With 27 exercises and 7 courses, the app gives scientifically developed and personalised brain training. The aim of the app is to help you to keep your brain sharp, improve focus and memory and think faster.

The peer group insights function allows you to compare how you are doing with others in your peer group and the app has over 15 million downloads.

6. Brain Training

The Brain Training app has 15 different kinds of games which are all individually designed to help you to exercise different aspects of your brain function, including multi-tasking, focus, memory power, concentration and left vs right side of the brain in a fun and interesting manner.

There are, of course, ways to keep your brain sharp if you are less keen on using a smartphone. Crosswords, Sudoku, word searches, as well as games like cards or chess, for example. However, brain training apps offer another dimension, which is the range of challenges available as well as the ability that apps have to track and compare your progress.

Apps which help us to keep our brains sharp and working at their optimum level can be very useful for our mental health regardless of your age or any other demographic. You can find more information about staying active, fit and well, both mentally and physically, on our page, staying independent at home.

Guest post, contributed by Leanne White.